After discovering they are siblings, Robin and Andrea McBride turned a shared passion into a successful family business.
Laughter, competition and friendship are common between sisters. The relationship can be complicated and messy—and also one of the most cherished connections you will ever make. This is the lesson Robin and Andréa McBride have spent the last 17 years learning.
Neither Robin, 42, nor Andréa, 33, grew up with their father, Kelly McBride. Robin’s parents divorced when she was 2, and she grew up in picturesque Monterey, California. Andréa was also 2 when her parents split. She and her mom left Los Angeles and returned to her mother’s native New Zealand. Each woman was raised as an only child, unaware the other existed.
When Andréa was a teen, Kelly called to share that he was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer and that she has a sister. His dying wish was for them to meet. Andréa was saddened by his illness but excited about having an older sister in the States. Kelly died in 1996 before seeing his daughters united. His family promised to fulfill his wish. “It took years,” explains Robin. “This was in the nineties, so they had to do it without the Internet. Our uncle watched The Oprah Winfrey Show, where she discussed finding people. It included going through public records.”
Relatives sent handwritten letters to anyone in the country with the name Robin McBride. In 1999, a letter made
it to Robin’s childhood home. “I called my aunt in Alabama, where our father is from,” Robin says. In a sweet twist of fate, Andréa was visiting that same aunt when Robin rang. “In a few minutes, I had to digest I would never see my dad again and I suddenly have a sister,” she contin- ues. “We agreed to meet the next day in New York City, since Andréa was headed there to meet more of our family.”
“I waited for Robin at the airport not knowing what she looked like,” says Andréa. “When she got off the plane, we locked eyes and immediately grabbed each other and cried.”
“I thought I saw my reflection in the mirror until I realized that I was seeing my sister for the first time,” Robin adds.
The two quickly became aware they had more in common than a name and DNA. They were both Black girls who had spent their childhoods in wine regions. “With a love of wine, we explored going into business together,” says Andréa.
But the wine industry, particularly ten years ago, was still very male and very White, with family businesses typically handed down from one generation to the next. “People weren’t used to seeing women who looked like us owning a wine company,” Robin shares.
Undeterred by the obstacles, they traveled to New Zealand and persuaded a group of sustainable growers to allow them to import and sell their wine in Cali- fornia. The sisters knew that wine drinkers were getting younger and more sophis- ticated and were unwilling to break the bank over one bottle. In 2010, with a small inventory, a handshake deal and many prayers, they launched Eco.Love Wines.
It grew and so did their passion. Last January the sisters established Truvée, which now has a staff that’s 60 percent female. The company offers a crisp char- donnay, a new rosé and the Red Blend, made with Grenache and Syrah.
“Truvée comes from the word that means ‘to find’ in French,” Andréa says. “Robin and I found each other, and some beautiful vineyards. For our customers, we hope it’s a reminder to find what matters most to them.”
Wendy L. Wilson is a veteran journalist based in New York City and the former news editor for ESSENCE.
This feature was originally published in February 2016 issue of ESSENCE.